Increase in work in Austrlia and Middle East offsets slowdown in UK water sector caused by regulator’s review.

Engineer consultance Hyder Consulting has increased its pre-tax profit by 81% despite reduced margins on water work in the UK.

Increased levels of activity and improve margins in Australiat and the Middle East helped offset a reduction of work in the UK water sector ahead of the regulator’s five-year price review.

Profit before tax increased to £4.4m for the year ended 31 March 2005, while turnover grew 11% to £136m. The order book at the year end was £185m.

Hyder said it had a strong year in the transport sector. Significant projects included the growth of the M25 widening contract for the Highways Agency and the awarding of the Mottram-Tintwistle Bypass contract on the edge of the Peak District National Park. Work levels for Transport for London were also high.

In the property sector health and education projects contributed to growth while government regeneration policies lead to an increase in specialist plannning work. Environmental services also grew and the acquisition of Ashact and Marcus Hodges Environment increased the number of people Hyder has working in the sector to 100.

Hyder said that it had secured roles, with water companies or with their selected contractors, for South West Water, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, Thames Water and Wessex Water.

Chief Executive Tim Wade said: “The strength of our markets and our strategy for increasing our share of higher value advisory work gives us a solid base for delivering further margin improvements.”